Obed Wild and Scenic River in Eastern Tennessee

It was a piece of good luck that we stopped at the National Park Service (NPS) Visitor Center in Oak Ridge (nickname “Atomic City”) Tennessee to find out about tours of the Manhattan Project where the atomic bomb was developed during World War II.   We found out the NPS didn’t arrange those tours but the ranger did tell us we shouldn’t miss the Obed Wild and Scenic River and Lilly Bluff Scenic Overlook.   After our stop at Oak Ridge we had planned to drive to Frozen Head State Park to enjoy some nature and walking in the forest.    But the Obed River area sounded like something we needed to see, so we decided to drive there first.   Above is a photo of me near the Obed.

The Obed River is a popular place for white water kayaking, fishing and rock climbing.   There are only a few accessible overlooks into the rugged canyon with Lilly Bluff the most popular.  A short trail leads to an impressive series of overlook platforms.   I was impressed with how the platforms were situated on large sandstone outcroppings with different viewpoints and benches.   The scenery was spectacular, better than I think the photos convey, but that’s the way it goes with photography.  The fall colors were starting to show which was nice as colors have been late this year and we were going to miss seeing peak color in Tennessee as we were heading west in a few days.

Spending time at Lilly Bluff Overlook was a really nice way to end our time in the Appalachian Mountains.   I was so glad we received that tip from the park ranger.   The photo below shows one of the overlooks in the top left hand corner.

From the parking lot are several trails including one to the Lilly Boulder Field Stone Preserve with its many rock formations.

These house sized boulders were pretty interesting and rather mysterious looking with some of them standing alone and others creating passageways of rock through the forest.   Supposedly they came from an ancient sea that once covered much of Tennessee.   This boulder field is now protected by the Nature Conservancy.

Kids would love this place as of course there are lots of rocks to climb as well as hidden areas to explore.   My favorite feature was how the trees grew on the boulders with their roots hanging over reaching for the ground.   It is always interesting to see how nature adapts in the most difficult situations.

When we finished up with the Obed River area we drove to Frozen Head State Park.   This unusual name comes from the Park’s highest peak with its cap of snow and ice during the winter.    I did a little hike to DeBord Falls one of two falls located here.   Since we spent time at the Lilly Bluff Overlook and the Obed NPS Visitor Center, I didn’t have time to hike to the second one.    As you might know from previous posts, it is hard for me to pass up seeing a waterfall!

This waterfall was small, but the best part was that I had it to myself, a first in my waterfall jaunts.   There were no people clamoring around the pool in front of the falls, it was all very peaceful.

I hope you enjoyed this post about our time in the Tennessee outdoors!

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